PWS salmon harvests jump to 5 M+
Statewide catch tops 26 M fish and growing
Cordova Times by Margaret Bauman - July 5, 2019
Delivery of wild Alaska salmon to processors in Prince William Sound reached upwards of the five million fish mark as of July 2, as the catch from the Copper River drift fishery alone topped one million fish from the Copper River.
Bristol Bay Fisheries Report: July 4, 2019
KDLG by Isabelle Ross - July 4, 2019
Happy July 4! The Nushagak District’s cumulative harvest is now at 7.1 million Escapement in the Wood River has reached one million, while the Nushagak's king escapement is the lowest so far this summer. The Naknek-Kvichak’s total harvest is approaching 2 million, and Egegik is at 3.6 million.
Alaska Fisheries Report
KMXT by Maggie Wall - July 3, 2019
The deadline for comments on the Pebble Mine Draft Environmental Impact Statement has closed. More than 91,000 comments were received, including that of the EPA, which found fault with the EIS. The agency says the draft report likely underestimates the risks the mine poses.
Chinese Show More Willingness to Buy Seafood Online
SeafoodNews.com by Amy Zhong - July 5, 2019
Imported fresh food has become increasingly popular on China’s e-commerce platforms within recent years. As statistics from JD show, during the recent online shopping festival on June 18, the platform sold out as much as 6,700 tons of imported fresh food. Among them, imported seafood has enjoyed an obvious increase in sales, especially during such promotion festivals.
JD is said to have sold nearly 4 million giant tiger prawns during the festival, while 860,000 crayfish were sold out within the first three minutes of the festival. Earlier on June 4, another fresh food day, the online platform sold out of443,000 giant tiger prawns, while imported salmon sales grew by nearly 6.8 times compared with the previous year.
Marine Harvest is among the most popular brands of imported fresh food on JD. Regarding species, frozen basa fillets from Vietnam and Canada’s northern prawns are in the top five sales. Meanwhile, live abalones are among the top five sales of fresh food in its physical store, 7Fresh.
In addition to attractive festival discounts on JD, public attention has also been drawn to its seafood auction during this shopping carnival. The virtual platform has sold out 102 kg of frozen sea cucumbers seized by customs at 86,280 yuan (~$12,542 USD), which set a new record in the customs’ auction of fresh food within the past 19 years.
JD statistics show a dramatic increase in fresh food purchases by consumers from lower-tier cities like Jiangmen. And according to data from Suning, another significant e-commerce platform, shrimp are especially popular among consumers in northeast China, while Ecuador’s white shrimp are widely received in Xuzhou of Jiangsu. People from Xinjiang, an inland city far away from sea, also show great preference to seafood.
Scientists sound alarm after 6 rare whale deaths in a month
Associated Press by Patrick Whittle - July 3, 2019
A half-dozen North Atlantic right whales have died in the past month, leading scientists, government officials and conservationists to call for a swift response to protect the endangered species.
Alaska Getting “Blow Torched” with Record-Breaking Heat
SeafoodNews.com by Peggy Parker - July 5, 2019
A fire-alarm is ringing throughout Alaska and the seas that surround it. Anchorage hit an official 90 degrees yesterday for the first time on record.
Rick Thoman, a climatologist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment & Policy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, posted on social media last week that the northern Bering and southern Chukchi seas are “baking" according to an AP report yesterday.
Sea surface temperatures last week were as high as 9 degrees above the 1981-2010 average, reaching into the lower 60s, he said, with effects on the climate system, food web, communities and commerce. Kotzebue and Norton sounds were warmest but the heat extended far out into the ocean.
The 90 degree temperature at Ted Stevens International Airport yesterday crushed a 50-year record of 85 degrees on June 14th, 1969. Since 1952, daily temperatures in Anchorage have been recorded, and never has it reached 90, which is 25 degrees warmer than normal, said meteorologist Bill Ludwig with the National Weather Service in Anchorage.
The exceptionally warm temperatures are caused by a “giant ridge of high pressure sitting right over us,” Ludwig told the Anchorage Daily News yesterday. Imagine, he said, how an aerosol can cools as air expands; the opposite is true as air is compressed over Anchorage.
The heat is not going away.
Bob Henson, meteorologist and journalist noted on social media yesterday “The NWS is calling for *each* of the next five days to be hotter than the *official all-time record* for Anchorage. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a forecast quite like this.”
Climatologist Brian Brettschneider noted that “The high temperature Wednesday of 83F (28.3C) at Kodiak appears to be a new record high for the month of July.”
The sea ice extent in the southern Chukchi Sea (close to Alaska) has been near a record low for most of the summer melt season, with records going back to the mid-1970s.
Locals and scientists say the rapid sea ice melt this spring has been unprecedented.
It's having a major effect on food sources, as animals are driven farther away from the villages.
Coastal residents and scientists alike have been stunned by just how fast northern Alaska's sea ice vanished this spring.
The abnormally rapid melt was caused by well-above-average ocean temperatures, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
In the past, hunters could find bearded seals on sea ice just outside the village of Kivalina, according to Janet Mitchell, a resident of the town. But this year, because the ice melt had chased the seals so far to the north, hunters from her family had to travel more than 50 miles by boat to find the seals in early June.
"We didn't know if we'd have our winter food," she said. "That was scary."
The hunters ran out of gas after harvesting eight seals and a walrus. They were able to call other residents to deliver fuel, Mitchell said.
Rick Thoman, a climatologist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment & Policy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, posted on social media last week that the northern Bering and southern Chukchi seas are "baking."
The warmth is weeks ahead of schedule and part of a "positive feedback loop" compounded by climate change. Rising ocean temperatures have led to less sea ice, which leads to warmer ocean temperatures, he said.
The last five years have produced the warmest sea-surface temperatures on record in the region, contributing to record low sea-ice levels.
"The waters are warmer than last year at this time, and that was an extremely warm year," Thoman said.
Lisa Sheffield Guy of the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States oversees an online platform that allows Alaska Native walrus hunters to share tips on sea ice, weather and hunting. The need for reporting ended May 31 because coastal sea ice had melted.
"When we started in 2010, we would go until the last week of June," she said.
Guy is a seabird biologist who studied birds on St. Lawrence Island south of the Bering Strait. She's worried that warmer temperatures will make it harder for seabirds to find the tiny seafood they eat, she said. The heat might push their prey deeper or away from the area.
Warmer ocean temperatures come as hunters report large numbers of dead seals off Alaska's western and northern coasts, Thoman said. An unusually large number of dead gray whales have also been found off Alaska's southern coasts, where sea surface temperatures are also unusually high, Thoman said. It's not known whether the warm water has contributed, Thoman said.
"Certainly it's all happening at the same time," he said.
In March, the high temperatures were blamed for a large ice shelf breaking from the coast near Nome in March, dragging tethered crab pots. Nick Treinen lost two crab pots and others lost more.
"It was unprecedented for March," he said.
The ice also swept away gold mining equipment, forcing a helicopter rescue for three miners who unsuccessfully tried to save it.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will conduct an unusually extensive fish survey in the Bering Strait this summer, Thoman said. It could provide clues for possible impacts to Bering Sea fisheries, he said.
In Bristol Bay ADF&G fisheries biologist Tim Sands told KDLG the Igushik River salmon have yet to reach the lower end of its escapement goal of 150,000 to 400,000.
“Because it’s such a long, windy river and it’s muddy, and I think it’s very prone to overheating there, that there’s more chance of a thermal barrier there as well,” Sands explained.
Heat is likely slowing king escapement in the Nushagak as well, KDLG reported yesterday. Sands says sections of warm water could present bigger obstacles for king salmon, so they may be staying in deep holes with cooler water. According to Sand, there have also been reports of fish going belly-up and floating.
“The warmer the water gets, the less oxygen there is, and the fish are suffocating. We’ve only had a few reports in the Nushagak, but it’s definitely something that concerns us,” Sands said.
Sands said the difference between the sockeyes' reaction to the thermal barriers and that of the kings might also be due to volume.
“There’s so many sockeye that they can’t just hold there because there’s not enough room for them to hold," he said. "Whereas maybe there’s more room for the kings to hold. Maybe they’re going up more in the middle of the river outside the sonar, where the water’s deeper. Maybe they’re going at night. On the Igushik tower we’re seeing a lot more fish passage overnight than during the day.”
Like the Nushagak, fish in the Naknek-Kvichak have been seeing warm water and plenty of sunlight, and no strong winds to help move the fish into the district. Management biologist Travis Ellison said it’s tough on the ectothermic animals.
"We've actually gotten to the point where we've seen some signs of heat stress in most of the rivers, actually," he said.
According to Ellison, hot water means less oxygen is available to the fish, and they are more susceptible to infections. And while hasn’t impacted the run on a large scale, it’s still concerning.
"It's a fish here, a fish there kind of thing, compared to hundreds of thousands of fish escaping. So it's not really alarming, population-wise, but it is alarming that we're seeing fish stress from this weather," he explained.
Fish and Game is just starting to observe these signs of heat stress, and they haven’t conducted any testing yet. Right now, water temperatures are hovering around 57 or 58 degrees F.
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